this is the official urbansmarts.com news section!

March 04, 2005

recordsroundup: March 4th, 2005 (part one)

Hezekiah “Hurry Up & Wait…” (Soul Spazm)
Not just the title of this record is rather clever, but the whole project really holds its ground and achieves to be interesting. Especially for the ones that like this new vibe and style that’s coming from the Beat Society people. Hezekiah does not depend on many outside producers, but still gets M-Phases on one song, Illmind on two and Anthony Accurate on one. Guests are Aaron Livingston, Chief Kamachi, Richard Raw, Keziah, Scratch, Grand Agent, Santi White, Eleon and Bahamadia. The vibe is mostly smooth, the lyrics are never overtly ignorant (can be kinky though, like on “Photograph”), and don’t be surprised to hear this record in the summer more often than in the cold months. For more information check soulspazm.com.

DJ Juice “Hip Hop Mixtape Volume 13” (Double Impact Productions)
This little mixcd basically showcases everything that’s wrong with rap music – none the least that they dare to put ‘hip hop’ in the title. Cause what we get here is a selection of the currently popular songs, along with a couple of freestyles. And while the club and the thugs and everybody that started to listen to rap after 1998 will be impressed, those that remember the good old days will cringe and refuse to admit that they are rap fans too. Cause you don’t want to be associated with this music, those horrible keyboard stabs, those simple and blah lyrics. Seriously now… come one… right? But you cannot blame DJ Juice for it, who pulls together the not so good, the bad and the ugly, i.e. Lil Scrappy, 50 Cent, Game, T.I., Young Buck, Mannie Fresh, Lil Jon, Dem Franchise Boys, etc. And while some stuff is catchy, some might even be okay, that doesn’t change the fact that just a couple of years ago people would have laughed about such mediocrity and lack of skills and bump. So yes, get this mixcd to know why you may, can and must dislike all that horrible, uncreative, simple, basic and boring mainstream rap. Know your enemy. For more information check djjuice.biz

Knickerbocker “Knickerbocker” (Knickerbocker)
There’s not much to say about this record, apart that it’s a Jazz Band from Switzerland, who carry a couple of tunes and a couple of styles. Sometimes the whole thing swings, sometimes it’s more mellow and on one song we even have one dude rapping. The good news: he’s not even that bad. And nor is this EP. Check it if you come across it.

Mattr. and friends “Consequence Of Thoughts” (Ramadan)
Don’t be surprised if some time during the record you catch yourself saying: “why can’t those geezers just shut up?” The rappers on here, like The Mole, Ancient Mith, Terms None and Demune are not really bad – sometimes a little simple and tiring with their rhetoric maybe, but not bad. However, the true quality is in Mattr.’s beats. Thankfully there’s occasions where you can fully concentrate on his dense and dramatic compositions like the great second half of “Confusion” or the equally appealing “Down w/ The Cause”. Mattr. really is quite a find when it comes to this style and thus the record is definitely quite a pleasure. Thus this should also come with the instrumental version slapped to it. So petition this request by going to zhark.de and motionrecordings.com

Josh One “Narrow Path” (Myutopia)
This is an interesting package, as you get the album on CD and you get a Bonus DVD with the entire album in Multichannel Surround Sound and Stereo, plus video and the CD-Rom contains seven bonus instrumental tracks. But the album itself is worthy your attention as Josh incorporate live instrumentation that are used well enough to keep a certain grit and dirtiness to the whole offering. Oftentimes he lets someone sing or rap, like super emcee (who does too much singing and producing instead of rapping lately) Aloe Blacc on “Risin’”, Micah 9 on “Afterhours”, Rashaan Ahmad on “Less Traveled” or singers Lili De La Mora and Jule Walehwa on the smooth, almost Acid Jazzy “Day Dreamer” and “Contemplation” respectively. But there’s also the instrumental and very jazzy “Grey Skies” and more Acid Jazz on “Midnight Samba” with singer Kandace Lindsey. And finally a great vibe on the instrumental “Narrow Path”. Certainly not a boom bap album in any sense, but a great musical exploration into different fields and open areas.

Copperpot “Chapter 7” (EV Production)
He’s a producer from Chicago and he worked with Edo.G, Diverse, Mr. Complex, Pace Won, Iomos Marad, Akbar, Earatik Statik, Braintax (from the UK) and Longshot on this record. Nuff said, right? Right. So check him out on evproductions.net

J-Zone “Gimme Dat Beat Fool” (Old Maid)
One of rap’s funkiest and funniest – J-Zone – did a little treat for y’all. He grabbed a bundle of acappellas and put his own flashy beats behind ‘em. Who got the treatment? Folks like Redman, M.O.P., De La Soul, Project Pat, Capone-N-Noreaga and Tash. However, that’s not all, J steps up to the mic himself for “Late Greatness” with Devin The Dude and for “Rockaway And Crenshaw” with Eazy-E; all the while commenting what’s happening. Yes, this is a must get for every J-Zone fan, a dope record for every rap fan and a should get for all those that don’t know just yet. Check zonesite.net for mo’ information.

Lyric District “Souliliquies EP” (Lyric District)
A couple of years ago we reviewed the LD’s album “Morlock Modernisms”. And while we weren’t exactly thrilled with it back then, listening to it now, it sounds actually quite good. The LD’s return with a six song EP, including two bonus tracks. And this little platter is proper. All three members, Ban Alpha, Mr.Rha.Gers and Kenny Keys have stepped up their respective contribution. And if you say: damn, Kenny Keys rings a bell, then it better does. Cause that’s the man who hooked up the supreme “The Connection” by Thaione Davis. So, plenty reasons to check this out, as Chicago is again solidifying its place as the most happening city right now. Check lyricdistrict.com

DJ Fisher & DJ Jon Doe present “The Domination Mix Vol. 1 – Family & Friends” (Domination)
Domination
is quite busy right now with putting mixcds out. What we don’t mind, cause they are doing things right. The Dooley-O one was funkier than a construction site worker’s armpits and DJ Cade Money’s gave us more rare songs than, than, well, just gave us a lot of rare songs. This little project here now gives us a selection of new songs from the Domination universe - not all Domination artists, but all Family and Friends. Things go from 4Zone to Braille, to Majik Most feat. louis logic, to Cadence feat. Esoteric to Supastition, to Sev Statik, to J-Zone feat. Celph Titled who give you the previously heard “Spoiled Rotten”. And that’s just track one to nine, leaving out the two UJ Empire cuts “Motivate” by Surreal and the super nice “These Eyes” by Blakout. To round out the full UJ experience there’s Xodus Ph.D “Feeling Great” and the very fresh “Determination” by Tzarizm, and you know that the Urban Jungle galaxy is something to watch out for too. There’s more though: we also have I.T. (Infinito2017 and Thaione Davis), we have O.U.O feat. Cadence, Time Machine, Dutchmassive, Lost N Found Department, Shorty Raw and Count Bass D. But not less important is DJ Jon Doe’s excellent mixing, reminding us what a mixtape used to be about: dope tunes with dope turntable trickery. This here has both, so get it now. More information on dominationrec.com and meetjondoe.com.

Emanon “The Waiting Room” (Shaman Work)
Finally we get more Emanon material, heck, took ‘em long enough. But around the time you read this, you should be able to buy this album in stores. And it gives us all that we always liked about the twosome: Aloe’s incredible rhyming and Exile’s just as nice beats. There’s exactly that on here, plus if you shove the CD in your computer, you should get a whole lot more, if the final version includes everything this little promo does. The everything being a bundle of videos (including a solo Exile performance where he shows how good a rapper he is), a gallery (where you might find the mug of yours truly) and some hidden MP3s from Emanon’s crew. Sure, we’re still a little hesitant about Aloe’s singing, but hey, this cat must blow up. He must be rap’s next superstar. So catch him now and brag about how you already know him for years. More information on shamanwork.com, essdub.com and emanonhiphop.com

Dub-L “Day Of The Megabeast” (Day By Day)
This record is so star studded, it’ll take us the whole duration of this short write up just to give you an idea on who’s on here. So let’s start: We got X-Clan’s own Professor X, Jemini The Gifted One, Fivefeet:Perspectives, Pack FM, open gay rapper Soce The Elemental Wizard, Ivizabul Man and Lord Scotch of the MIC, Windnbreeze, Karniege, Rayna Shine, GM Grimm, C-Rayz Walz, Poison Pen, DJ Js-1, Percee P, Razhel, Breez Evaflowin and a couple of more cats. Actually a surprise appearance by Jer of the Party Fun Action Committee and Hangar 18 provide the best song on here with “World Premier”. Dub-L does the beats and a host of skilled rappers do the raps, so this can’t and does not go wrong. Now check it out on daybydayent.com and dub-l.com

The Perceptionists “Black Dialogue” (Definitive Jux)
A new super group appears on the horizon, but you already know about it, right? Well, Akrobatik, Mr. Lif and DJ Fakts One are The Perceptionists and have teamed up for a full length album. And this thing is rather proper. The song “Blō” (produced by El-P) is a killer and while some songs like “Breathe In The Sun” and “5 O’Clock” are a little ‘sweet’ they are still good. The latter especially with a great topic and with Phonte of Little Brother crooning the hook. And even though “Party Hard” feat. Guru and Camutao and produced by the latter is desperate for some club play, hearing Humpty Hump on “Career Finders” will make up for that slump. Add to that Akrobatik sounding better than he has ever sounded before, actually really coming through with his verses, and Mr Lif sounding as dope as he always does, add production by Fakts One, more El-P, Willie Evans Jr, and you have a record that just might blō up. More information on definitivejux.net

Ambidex “The Great Potato Famine (Pass The Freedom Fries)” (Early Spotter)
This probably has one of the most stupid titles in quite some time, but don’t let that have you pass this by. Cause this thing is actually good. It’s very political – what the little ‘freedom fries’ bit suggests – it talks about “the economic and cultural differences that reside in American Society” as the bio says. It features beats by Joey Beats (of Non Prophets fame), by Jerm The Just One, Tommy Hearns and El Tripps. Plus it drops on Early Spotter, which is a new label (you’ll soon learn) that stands for quality. Cause their other releases include Access Immortal’s “Shades Of Reality” (featuring production by J-Zone, Insight, and Low Class Productions and guest appearances by Breez Evahflowin, Karniege, Wordsworth, Insight, Loer Velocity and Oktober) and maybe even more so Shed Light “Perseverance” (featuring Cadence, Alias and Access Immortal, as well as the funny “Everyone And Their Mother Wants To Be An MC”). So make sure you bookmark earlyspotter.com




recordsroundup: March 4th, 2005 (part two)

Grand Agent “Under The Circumstances” (Soul Spazm)
Yes, the rumors are true: Grand Agent has teamed up with OhNo for an EP that’s exclusively produced by the latter. Dropping on the ‘making moves’ Soul Spazm label, the two have recorded ten songs, combining their talents. Liv L’Raynge drops by on two songs and Hezekiah on “Reluctant Rapper”. You can only hope that this will have other rappers remember the good old days of having one dude produce their whole record. Heck, hope dies last, right? Check soulspazm.com for more information.

DJ Cade Money aka Cadence of Raw Produce “Built For The 90’s” (Domination)
Mixtapes come a dime a dozen (well, maybe a little more expensive than that), but every now and then, there’s one that’s actually just a tad bit nicer. This is one of those. So what’s so bravo about this? Well, Cadence got his fingers dusty and rummaged through his collection to rediscover some ‘rare, remixed and overlooked joints from hip hop’s second best decade’ as he says himself. So we get music by KRS-One, Common Sense’s “Funk Shit”, Showbiz & AG, Organized Konfusion, Pete Rock & CL Smooth (“It’s Not A Game”), Kool Keith, A Tribe Called Quest (“Stressed Out (Vinyl Reanimators Remix)”), Kwest Tha Mad Lad, Edo.G and folks you might have never heard of, like Freshco & Miz, Supreme Nyborn, Resident Alien and Fong Sai U. This ditty is twenty two tracks deep and full of cuts you want to listen to. So check dominationrec.com and rawproduce.com for more information.

V.A. “The Rub – It’s The Motherfucking Remix”
Well, actually it’s not. It’s the mf blends, baby. But blends this does well. Heck, just hearing Mobb Deep’s “Got It Twisted” over the Ghostbusters Theme tune is a lot of fun. Or hearing The Beatles over Kelis “Milkshake” is quite something too. On top of that we get Digital Underground over The Neptunes, we get Eminem, OutKast (partly over Run-D.M.C. and Franz Ferdinand), Prince, Eric B & Rakim, Jay-Z, Nancy Sinatra, Lil Flip and just so much more, you have to listen to this yourself to believe it. Why? Cause the truckload of people, including Cosmo Baker, DJ Eleven, DJ Ayers, Mark Ronson and Diplo created precise and surprisingly funky blends. So check itstherub.com for more information and get this thing.

Idris Goodwin “s/t” (Naïveté)
This here is an interesting combination of spoken word, rap, old school aesthetics, deep content, good beats and all bundled up in nine songs. Idris Goodwin is a do it all, he worked with a bundle of not really knowns and created something a small write up can never do justice to. So we shall not say much more than urge you to go and check out idrisgoodwin.com and naiveterecords.com and listen yourself. Don’t miss this.

Cryptic One “The Blender Vol. 1” (Centrifugal Phorce)
Okay, this Atoms Family member did himself a couple of remixes. Excited? You better. Not yet though? Well, if you read the interview with him, then you know that he also remixed Jay-Z. And his version of “Moment Of Clarity” is actually one of the best you’re ever going to hear by anybody. This song is incredibly nice. Not too shabby though are Cryptic One's own songs “Willow” and “Intricate Schemes”, more Jay remixes (“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and “Change Clothes”) as well as remixes of “Beat Slope” and “Keeps It Movin” by Hangar 18, “Life’s Ill Pt. 2” by Vast Aire feat. Breezly Brewin & Vordul, as well as “FM” and the very, very good “All Y’all” by MF Grimm. You can get this record at cprecords.net, along with the past Atoms Family catalogue. So make sure you visit the site and stack up.

The Presence “Members Only EP” (Uncommon)
This came out some time ago and we wanted to tell you about it for some time (then again, didn't we already?). Not just because our good friend ArcSin is on here, but boy is he on here. He produced the posse cut “We Are” featuring Nasa and Cirrus of The Presence, but also Stacs Of Stamina and Centri. Equally excellent is “Members Only” a song apparently taken from the forthcoming album “Common Man’s Anthems”. This Nasa beat is incredible. And even the usually infallible Johan of Stacs Of Stamina can’t live up to the original version with his remix of the same song. Further we get a bundle of new songs, we get “Pandas Killing Each Other” from The Presence’s 2001 “Advance Bloodbath” EP, we get “Razor Fund Remix” featuring Vast Aire and Alaska and we get a preview of the “Common Man’s Album” which features production from Nasa, El-P, ArcSin, and Aesop Rock, Masai Bey, Karniege and Rob Sonic as guests. So this is a good appetizer and you can find more information on uncommonmusic.net.

Aeon Grey “Marionette Work Bench” (Aplus9)
This here is good. Aeon really knows how to create a certain vibe for himself, be it that he produces the beats himself or has friends like Workerbee or Dustcollectors do that for him. This is eleven songs deep, features more insight than peephole the size of a window with a view, and once again, you better listen to this yourself. So check softfocusart.com and aplus9records.com for more information.

Infinit EVOL & B. Will “The Professor & The Mutant” (Complex Sound Design)
This is some gritty ish. This takes lo-fi and grit to new lengths and it’s one of its main qualities. The lyrics are spoken in a very straight forward fashion, the content is harsh and void of sugar coating shish. The beats leave all them fancy tricks to other people, making this some pure bread, basic, in your face rap music. There’s a million MIC fans out there that should better listen to this here, cause they’ll enjoy it. More information on daybydayent.com

MeccaGodzilla vs. 007 “Soundclash #1” (Backwoodz Studioz)
Heck, let’s face it: battling is the fifth element of hip hop. All four elements battle. Now two producers from the metropolis town of NYC battle too. But this is a friendly brawl, and if anything it’s just to show off their skills. So more shadow boxing than full contact K1, MeccaGodzilla (aka Ravage) and 007 step up to do a bundle of beats for a bundle of artists to rhyme over. Them being – of course – Billy Woods, but also Vordul Megallah, Rodan, Divine Mind, King Ra, Spiega, Kong and Ravage steps himself to the plate to spit some verses. So yes, they all do exactly what they promise and the infallible Backwoodz Studioz give us another winner. More information on backwoodzstudioz.com.

Serge Boogie “True Indeed” (Wrecluse)
Years ago Serge Boogie already did an EP and that thing was actually pretty good. After a long break he returns with nine new songs, partly self produced, partly done by his partner in crime Eric. And the verdict? Oh well. The flow is still offbeat, very fast and if you could be bothered to really listen to what he says, you’d probably hear some dope lines. But he really takes the offbeat rhyming to exaggerated levels, as this is just a continued stream of words. As for the beats, we do get some ‘this is kinda nice’ offerings, like “Solitary Man”, “Dunno” (where Serge had the opportunity to adapt his flow and make this great), the very good “Whirling Dirvish” and “Fresh Produce”. So there’s actually quite a bit right about this EP, but Serge really needs to do something about his flow. Sure, the speed is impressive, how he can do it without slipping is probably too, but none the less, there’s very little personality in it. Personality we get with his singing on the last song. A little soul searching on that delivery, and we’d have another great artists no one has ever heard of. Check wrecluse.com for more information.

Sentence “There And Back” (Voicebox)
This album starts with a bang, cause the “DJ Thought Intro” features a funky beat and some serious scratching. Heck, if the whole album is going to be like this, then we have one supreme release in our hands. He keeps the formula of low and funky basses, sampling like it’s still 1992, and the speed of the songs is also pleasantly uptempo. Sentence only leaves few songs to other folks to produce (them being Do-Right, EarthFireMusic and AES), a song like “Harpoon City” must get every crowd in a frenzy and makes a song like “Sleep Walking” (produced by EarthFireMusic – who also does the better, while not very good “Escalate”) sound boring in comparison. Also a little too subdued is “5th Floor”, even though the thoughtful lyrics are good. The album really starts to becomes unfortunately less exciting towards the second half. AES’ “Perspective” is also a little ‘eeh’ (his “Never A Next Time” is dope though) and it takes “Won’t Stop” and Sleep’s guest appearance on “Hey Everybody” to regain lost ground. So yes, the album starts with a bang, continues to fire heavy artillery for the first half, then slumps a couple of times on some of the second seven songs. But ends this properly again with the really good “Never A Next Time”. And Sentence really has something to say throughout the whole album, and we have not more to say about this record, apart from that you can find more information on voiceboxrecords.com

Ominus & DJ “S” “Ominus Odyssey” (Family The Label)
Okay, we have had records reviewed from South Africa, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, France, the USA (duh), Germany, Canada, probably Italy, certainly Australia and Austria, and probably some other places too. But so far never from Greece. Yip, that place of culture and togas and where North Europeans like to take their summer vacations. Enter Ominus & DJ “S” and their album “Ominus Odyssey” Or “Ominus Oδύσσεια” If you want to write it with a bunch of letters you probably remember from math’s class. Lyrically, they are saying something. What? Ask someone that speaks Greek. However, Ominus rides the songs properly and while the language sounds harsh, he finds a flow and that’s good. As for the beats, whoever done them likes his keyboard. So we get somewhat commercial beats, that sound like typical European rap songs that might actually get into the charts, i.e. quite unspectacular and lacking character. What makes this sound like one of those projects you support because it’s from your neck of the woods, and not really because you love it. Even though track ‘six’ (please don’t make me write everything with Greek characters) is actually quite neat, ‘seven’ sounds quite carefree, and ‘thirteen’ is pretty nice too. So the album is not as bad as we just declared, and as a real rap fan, you should be interested in what other countries are doing anyway. So check this and their older album called “PHSH” and find more information on familythelabel.com.

Still Catchin Wreck “The Greatest That Never Made It” (SCW)
They slap Colorado Hip Hop big and right on the front of the CD, just in case you’re wondering. But you’re probably wondering how good this record is. Actually this is some pretty damn proper rap music right here. Sure the three dudes that make up the team are not reinventing the wheel, but you can tell they are at it for quite some time (they say ten years) and there’s a certain effortlessness that comes with their rhymes and their beats that sounds like a couple of years ago. And sometimes both are just very good, sometimes they are quite solid and sometimes they just are. But a song like “Me And My SP” is just dope and in many silly ways rather silly too. And good. Heck, there’s plenty of good on here, so give these mountain dwellers some time of your day and check ‘em out on stillcatchinwreck.com.

Pugslee Atomz “Playing With Matches” (Audio8)
The CD says it is the 5th CD and we have no reason to not believe what the CD says. So you already had four chances to know and start to appreciate Pugslee Atomz. And for all the extra slow people, here’s number five and it’s another treat. We have the very creative “C I A” with a very special V Traxxx beat, there’s the funky and excellent “Griffin”, there’s “Control” with Binkis Recs over a Kato beat, “Vandal Squad” featuring Seel Fresh and Maker on the beat, the dope “Props”, the drum-n-bass like “Michael’s” produced by Polyphonic The Verbose (who did most of the songs on here) and finally “All City” by Mike G. Oh, and this is an enhanced CD, so for once you’re encouraged to put this CD into your computer. A CD that’s simply good, heck, really good if not to say great. Lyrics are creative and Pugslee sounds comfortable over them, shining right. So check audio8.com for more information on the record and for more videos check barbershophiphop.com. And damn, is Chicago putting out any wack records right now?

Artson “Save The World Pt. 2” (Death Valley)
While most think the Rock Steady Crew is only B-Boys breaking, they have always added musicians to their line up, like the Arsonists, Tony Touch or Swollen Members. Add to that line up Arton from Las Vegas Nevada. But he’s not your ordinary rapper, also calling himself a poet, a b-boy and a graffiti artist, having done almost all there is to do. His record features fifteen songs, features tracks with Craig G, Tash and Zo, Planet Asia and Lowkey, Verbal E of The Chapter, Q-Unique, Mr. Wiggles, Wildchild, A-love and Street Sweeper, while Quali-D, J Dirt, Quincy Tones, DJ Ammbush, D-Tunes, S-Groove and Profile handle the production. “No Pressure” is loud, the guitar on “Still Shining” and “Cool Out” is Latino, and for “The World” Artson teams up with the UK and Australia respectively. But what’s the verdict? As decent Artson is, as oftentimes unsatisfying to horrible his beat selection is. “Memory Lane” is pretty much as bad as it gets on the beat tip, while the lyrics are too honest to dismiss. On “Rosemary” and “Hijo De Santo” he tries his spoken word thing, but not even that can truly save the rather disappointing album. More information on mindspider.com and deathvalleyent.com

besides all that, we’re also listening to:
- Bent “The Everlasting Blink”
- Centa Of Da Web “Beyond Human Comprehension EP”
- Coco Rosie “La Maison De Mon Rêve”
- Craig Armstrong “Original Motion Picture Score – The Bone Collector”
- Death In Vegas “Scorpio Rising”
- Fluke “Oto”
- Milanese “1Up”
- Morcheeba “Big Calm”
- Villain Accelerate “Maid Of Gold”
- vyle “Post-Paleaeontologist”




O.U.O Remix Contest Winner

In late December pH Music and Domination Recordings put together a remix contest to support of the upcoming O.U.O full length album. The label provided an acapella of the song “It’s Time” via the web site for producers to download. “It’s Time” is a high stakes tale of intrigue and adventure in which emcees Pep and Dumi Right trade verses reminiscent of duos from the golden age of hip-hop.
After sifting through all the entries and a week of careful and painstaking deliberation the panel of 6 judges weighed in with the final decision. The esteemed panel of judges included Domination Recordings President DJ Fisher, urbansmarts.com chief editor and founder tadah, Producer Extraordinaire and Domination Recordings artist Cadence, Gameplan PromotionsMr. Lawson and Pep and Dumi from O.U.O.
Domination Recordings is proud to announce producer DaSunOfGod from the 7th Dimension as the winner.

Click here for an exclusive listen to the track laced by DaSunOfGod.